There is this photo of the Bastei bridge that I saw a few years ago. I told myself at that time that I need to go and see this place at some point in my life. I was more than sure that it was somewhere in Asia or Australia. The landscape looked just like in the Avatar movie with hanging rock formations and a beautiful bridge squeezed between the steep cliffs. Then I read that it is in...Germany!
Bastei is in Saxon Switzerland National Park, 50 kilometers (31 miles) and an hour drive from Dresden, near the Czech border in Eastern Germany. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with Switzerland ;) Bastei bridge is located in the center of the national park. The easiest way to get there is by car. There is a parking lot (3 euro per day) between the villages of Rathe Walde and Lohmen. You have to pay by cash for the parking lot in a self service parking machine, as cards are not accepted.
From there, you can walk for 40 minutes (as the signs say). It’s not an exciting walk as the path takes you along a sidewalk. I am glad we didn't do it because it just started to rain heavily for 15 minutes on our way back.
The other possibility is to take a 10-minutes bus ride which costs 1.5 euro for the round trip. Depending on the hour and the season, the bus goes more or less regularly, but when we were there in July, it was going at least three times per hour, so there’s nothing to worry about.
After you reach the entrance of Saxon Switzerland National Park, whether on foot or by bus, you will need walk for a few hundred meters, passing a small Berghotel (mountain lodge) with a small bar and restaurant. So if needed, this may be a convenient place to eat or have a beer just few minutes away from the bridge.
To get to the bridge, you need to go down some steep stairs and along the way, if you wish, climb some additional stairs to get to some of the better viewpoints.
The first Bastei Bridge has been built in 1824 and was made out of wood. It connected the rock formations with the Neurathen Castle. 30 years later, the the bridge got a sandstone replacement.
Nowadays the remaining ruins of the castle can be viewed from a self-conducted circular walk. It cost 2 Euro per person to get inside. The remaining part of the park is free of charge.
But I guess the most amazing part is, of course, is the Bastei Bridge itself. It is really as amazing as it looks on the pictures but what you don't see on most of them is the wonderful view of the river Elbe. The river goes like a serpentine around the whole rock formation and creates a spectacular surrounding to the area.
I was stunned, that during this summer holiday period, the amount of tourist was really reasonable and you were able to enjoy the view without too big of a crowd.